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Where to base in SE Sicily

Washington, DC
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Where to base in SE Sicily

Vagabonda, et. al,

We are coming down to the wire for our 2-week trip to Sicily and are behind in our planning, so lots of questions will be coming your way. Here are just a few.

1. The second week of the trip we plan to spend in the southeast of the island, primarily Siracusa and Noto and the Montalbano sites. Should we base in one place or two from the the second Saturday in May until the following Friday? We want to spend time in Siracusa, visit Noto, Ragusa (Ragusa Ibla?), Modica and Sciclia. Is it best to just base in Siracusa and make day trips to Noto, Ragusa,etc., or better to stay in two places (e.g., Siracusa and Ragusa or Ragusa Ibla)? Also, is it better to stay in Siracusa or Ortygia if we have a car?

We will be leaving for Rome Saturday morning from Catania airport. Where would be the best place to stay the night before? Catania? If Catania, it would probably be a good idea to return our rental car on the day before our flight. Does Catania have a bus service from the airport to the city like Palermo does? Or would it be better to stay at an airport hotel if there is one available?

Any advice would be appreciated. I will also be asking for hotel recommendations, rental car advice and other info. I don't know what I would do without TripAdvisor and Vagabonda and the other Sicily travelers.

Grazie mille

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1. Re: Where to base in SE Sicily

Siracusa. Ortygia. The whole time. At least that's what I'm planning to do, stay there (return there) and use that beautiful island city as a base to visit the baroque towns AND the Montalbano sites.

My view is always that it's a pain and some waste of time to change towns and hotels,

Edited: 03 April 2013, 03:53
Washington, DC
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2. Re: Where to base in SE Sicily

Thanks, ItalophileNJ. I agree about wasting time changing towns and hotels and especially didn't want to do that on the second week of our trip since we will be doing it so much during the first. My main qualm was worrying about drive times since DH is doing all the driving.

Could you tell me where you stayed and whether you would recommend it? I assume that you had a car that needed to be parked?

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3. Re: Where to base in SE Sicily

I stayed at the B&B L'Approde delle Sirene, which I loved and to which I've reserved again for my return. The owner/manager/host of this place, Fiora (really Fiorangela) is wonderful and everything is just done right. Especially the breakfasts.

Vagabonda and others can tell you more about driving times. I did have a car and when I was there it was OK to park it right along the water, just in front of the palazzo that houses the B&B. But rules change in Siracusa, and it may or may not be possible to leave your car there.

This trip I am not planning to rent a car, but to use public transportation and the occasional driver/guide as needed. I am on my own, and have found that driving and navigating simultaneously in Sicily is really impossible, even with a GPS. No really horrible experiences but lots of getting lost and being rescued by many kind Sicilians. So once I got to the lovely L'Approdo delle Sirene I just stayed in Ortygia and enjoyed the local sites there and in the rest of Siracusa.

Brisbane, Australia
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4. Re: Where to base in SE Sicily

Definitely Ortygia and not Syracusa. We have just spent 3 very memorable days in Ortygia though we did walk into Siracusa to see the Greek theatre and a few othernattractions and were very thankful that we had decided to stay in Ortygia.

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5. Re: Where to base in SE Sicily

Also, re your question on the night before your flight from Catania to Rome. It's about 60 Euro for a car service directly from L'Approdo delle Sirene (or anywhere else near there, I imagine) to your Catania flight. And if I recall correctly the time is less than an hour. That's what I did last trip and that's what I'm planning this trip (in just a few weeks!)

Washington, DC
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6. Re: Where to base in SE Sicily

Thanks again, italophileNJ. I'm now considering turning in our rental car in Siracusa and using a car service to the airport instead. And I checked out L'Approdo delle Sirene--it looked positively perfect for us. Unfortunately, they are completely booked for the time we will be there and I'm not surprised given the rave reviews it's received.

Here & There
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7. Re: Where to base in SE Sicily

Ciao JackRussellTerrier and thank you!

We all travel differently, but you would save time by staying in two bases, and you would also enjoy diversity of experiences - The Val di Noto Baroque towns are very special, and if you'd like to explore the Montalbano sites, this is the optimal area for that.

Consider one base around Modica/Ragusa/Scicili, and one base in Siracusa/Ortigia. Ortigia is Siracusa's historical centre and most charming area.

Visit Noto from Siracusa since it’s so near.

Why not end in Siracusa and drive to the airport in the morning and return the car then, or return the car in Siracusa when you’ve completed your exploration of the area, and then hire a transfer for the airport?

But if you’d feel more comfortable nearer the airport, return the car the night prior, take the bus to the city and stay in Catania your last night. With few exceptions the airport hotels are not memorable, nor are the restaurants in the area.

The AMT Alibus runs early, late, and frequently!

http://www.amt.ct.it/home.php

http://www.amt.ct.it/PercorsieOrari.php

http://www.amt.ct.it/pdf/orario457.pdf

http://www.amt.ct.it/pdf-linee/457.pdf

Contact AutoEurope, a reliable broker dealing with all suppliers.

Book your vehicle from a broker who deals with internationally known suppliers (Avis, Hertz, Europcar.....

When booking your vehicle, ask about the supplier and avoid Maggiore, Autoeuropa (not AutoEurope), Sicily by Car, Locauto, Thrifty, Advantage, Firefly, Dollar/....

If you’d like to stay on Ortigia in a B&B, contact Palazzo del Sale or B&B La Via della Giudecca.

Vagabonda

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8. Re: Where to base in SE Sicily

Many thanks, Vagabonda. Again, you've come through. The reason I hadn't considered driving from Siracusa to the airport the morning of our flight is I thought it might be a long drive and then we'd have to turn in the car, etc.; I don't know how long that would take. But italophile remembers the drive time as being a bit under an hour, so it's a possibility. I also like the suggestion that both of you made about returning the car in Siracusa and booking a car to take us to the airport. Will run both possibilities by DH.

Regarding the rental car, are AutoEurope and AutoEurope.uk the same or should I avoid autoeurope.uk? The reason I ask is that on our last trip, we booked through autoeurope.uk and ended up having to deal with Sicily by Car.--something I would like to avoid this time around.

Will check out your lodging suggestions pronto! Also, I will be asking another question under a different post.

Thanks again.

Here & There
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for Sicily, Taormina
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9. Re: Where to base in SE Sicily

Apologies for the delay JackRussellTerrier but these forums have been busy!

The drive from Siracusa to Catania’s airport would take less than an hour, but if your flight departs very early, the car rental agency would not be open, and it’s less than optimal to return a car via a drop-box.

AutoEurope and AutoEuropeUK are affiliated, but use different suppliers, and the contacts and terms and conditions are different. If you were to hire via AutoEurope UK, specifically ask about the supplier and avoid the less reputable companies like Sicily by Car.

Vagabonda

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10. Re: Where to base in SE Sicily

Italophile, one more question if you don't mind, this time regarding the car service you used from Ortyigia to the airport. Did you book it yourself or did the B&B host book it for you? Either way, do you remember the name?

Thanks.